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Massive Attack Review - The Downs - Bristol

 Massive Attack Review - The Downs - Bristol
Massive Attack doing a hometown gig at The Downs in Bristol. What could be more special?

This truly long awaited event was actually a mini festival that the organisers fought hard to bring to the city in this fantastic setting. It also included an impressive line up of other performers, such as Primal Scream and Skepta - who all did a fantastic job of getting the crowd ready for the grand finale.

Nearly 30,000 people filled the grounds for this musical treat that has already gone down in history.

Sure, there were problems. The rain was there from the time the gates opened at 1pm, continued right until after the end at 11pm and at several points can only be described as torrential. The queues for the bars were enormous and ridiculous, as well as the line to use the toilets. And all umbrellas were taken off everyone before they entered the festival. But nothing can truly take away from the fact that this event was seminal and well worth the money it cost to get in.

Massive Attack were performing to the most receptive crowd they could get as it has been 11 years since they have done a gig in the city and their loyal local fans were literally gagging for this performance. Not forgetting the many people who had travelled from all corners of the UK and even further.

It was 9.15pm when they eventually came onto the main stage (which was close to the Sea Walls alongside the Avon Gorge) with their opening hit ’Hymn of The Big Wheel’.

Fans will know that this is from their first album ’Blue Lines’ and to play music from it seemed especially appropriate as it’s celebrating its 25th anniversary. Wow, 25 years. Makes you feel old...

We got to see Horace Andy at this point as well as at a couple of other times throughout the show, and his presence was obviously a true delight among the crowds as they gave out rapturous appreciative applause.

The interaction from the band was on point. They thanked us for having them on a night like this and saluted us for our dedication despite the downpour.

They also spoke of Brexit and said this is a time of ’social solidarity’ before accompanying the next song with a backdrop of powerful words such as ’proud’ and ’divided’. Then came a statement that we should all live by - ’we are all in this together’.

In accordance with the recent news, a well known graffiti artist was of course mentioned and we were told "Yes, we are all Banksy."

They covered a lot of musical ground until they left the stage at 11pm - as songs were revisited from Blue Lines, Mezzanine, Heligoland, Protection and 100th Window.

This was an extremely eclectic set, as original long standing members (Grant "Daddy G" Marshall and Robert "3D" Del Naja) often took a backseat when several guest vocalists performed. Amongst these were hip hop trio the Young Fathers (who have become a full part of the extended Massive Attack family) as they belted out four of their own songs.

One moment that stood out for me and i am sure many others, was when rapper Tricky appeared on the stage and said: "I’m home, I’m home." He sounded emotional and so was the true Bristolian husband who came with me.

There were some songs missed out that people expected to hear but then how could they possibly cover everything in the time they had?

They finished with the expected ’Unfinished Sympathy’ and Deborah Miller’s voice was simply breathtaking.

At the very end, Daddy G shouted out to us: "Thank you so much. You being here has been mind-blowing". Then 3D Said: "We want to thank the organisers - this event has been a long time coming!"

Maybe now this was a success, it might pave the way for future music events on the Downs? Here’s hoping that happens - minus the rain of course. My clothes are still drying out as I type.

By Kelly Jobanputra

Photos: Vikesh Jobanputra

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